Paper One Topic One

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  • Created by: nheron
  • Created on: 10-05-16 08:52


Foreign policy of the German Kaiser (Emperor) - Lack of an overseas empire meant Germans felt inferior to other European countries

 Wilhelm wanted respect for Germany and decided to pursue this through an aggressive foreign policy

 Wanted to turn Germany into a dominant trading nation and felt an African Empire was needed to do this

 Might need a Navy as strong as Britain’s to secure what he wanted

 Pan-German League - powerful group wanted Germany to dominate a central European German speaking super-state (“Mitteleuropa”)

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Weltpolitik Significance

Aggressive foreign policy spread fear through many other European countries, creating mistrust in Britain, France and Russia and strengthening their Alliances

Britain worried that Germany wanted to overtake her in world dominance and may even be a threat to the British Empire

German increase in naval strength prompted Britain to increase the amount, size and power of her own ships and sparked the Naval Arms Race

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The Alliance System

Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy in the Triple Alliance (1882)

This Alliance promised to help each other if one was threatened or attacked

France and Russia in alliance with each other (1894)

Britain made friendly agreements (Entente Cordiale) with France (1904) and Russia (1907) – not as strong as an alliance

Arrangements between Britain, France and Russia known as Triple Entente

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Alliance System Significance

Alliance system caused suspicion and mistrust as treaties and agreements were often made and signed in secret

Alliance system had the potential to create wider hostility out of local disputes

Alliance system encouraged the building up of arms (naval/arms races) and the confidence countries had in being aggressive towards rivals (Balkans)

Alliances naturally led to situations where one tried to get the better of each other, such as in Morocco and the Balkans

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The Arms Race

Between 1900 and 1914 all of the Great Powers except Britain increased the size of their armies

In 1913 both France and Russia increased their periods of conscription

By 1913 only Russia had more soldiers than Germany but Russia’s army was very poorly equipped

By 1914 only Britain had not introduced conscription

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Arms Race Significance

Larger armies meant countries were more confident about potential conflict

Increased armies meant countries were more likely to want protection from others and seek allies

The main powers involved in the arms race shared borders with each other so would feel the need to attack before they were invaded.

Because there were large armies the great powers thought war was likely and they made plans for war (e.g. Schlieffen Plan 1905; French Plan 17)

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The Naval Race

Britain relied on Naval Power as an Island and to control her Empire and trade – by the late nineteenth century the British Navy was the largest in the world

In 1898 Germany decided to increase their Navy to rival Britain’s under Admiral Tirpitz

After 1906 Britain and Germany began a race to build the most Dreadnoughts which were too powerful for the older battleships

Germany refused to limit dreadnought production and there was a huge public pressure campaign in Britain “we want eight and we won’t wait”

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Naval Race Significance

Increased fear and mistrust of Germany in Britain

Put Germany and Britain into direct competition

Made Britain more likely to back France in any conflict

Made Britain worry about Germany Naval Power in the North Sea and English Channel (would not want a German invasion of France)

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Morocco 1 - Tangiers 1905

In 1904 Britain and France agreed that Morocco fell under French “influence” and this angered Germany who wanted to expand German Power in Africa and the Mediterranean

Kaiser Wilhelm upset the French when in 1905 he visited Morocco and promised to support the country in remaining independent

In 1906 Britain and Russia backed France at the Algeciras Conference in Spain – saying Germany should have no say in Moroccan matters


The Algeciras agreement strengthened Britain’s alliance with France and led to agreements with Russia in 1907 – caused the Triple Entente to exist

Sense of being surrounded forced Germany to resent Britain, France and Russia

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Morocco 2 -Agadir 1911

In 1911 the French helped the Sultan of Morocco put down a rebellion against him and attempted to take control of the country.

They were prepared to compensate Spain and Germany but Wilhelm wanted a share in the country and set the gunboat, Panther, to Agadir, a port on Morocco’s Atlantic coast

Britain was worried that Germany was attempting to build naval power and bases in Morocco and mobilised ships from nearby Gibraltar - forcing the Kaiser to back down

The French took over Morocco and the Kaiser was forced to back down, getting some useless land in the Congo as compensation


Britain thought that Germany was trying to dominate Europe after Agadir incident and so made an agreement to use its Navy to defend France’s Northern coast, further strengthening the Entente and making Germany more and more suspicious

Agadir was a clear victory for France – made Germany determined not to back down again

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The Bosnian Crisis 1908-1909

Balkans ruled by two weak empires, Austria-Hungary and Turkey

The Slav peoples of the region, especially Serbians, wanted their own, independent countries

Fifteen different nationalities lived within the Austro-Hungarian Empire and so Austria was very worried about losing land an power to nationalists

Austria-Hungary therefore quite keen to eliminate new nation of Serbia

Bosnia was part of the Turkish Empire but had been looked after by Austria-Hungary since 1878

In 1908 there was a revolution in Turkey, the Young Turks, and Austria took advantage in annexing Bosnia into the Austro-Hungarian Empire

This was opposed by Serbia who wanted to be united with Bosnia, but they were too small to act against Austria alone so looked to Russia for support who were sympathetic

In 1909 Germany made it clear that if Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary, Germany would declare war on Russia and so Russia backed down

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Bosnian Crisis Significance

Bolstered the Alliance system by reassuring Austria-Hungary that it could rely on German support

Russia built a massive army between 1909 and 1014 and was unlikely to back down to German pressure again

Serbia was now looking for an opportunity for revenge on Austria-Hungary

In the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 Serbia defeated the Turks and doubled in size

In 1910 a terrorist group called The Black Hand was formed in Serbia – its aim was to unite all Serbs in the Balkans into a “Greater Serbia”

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The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand

The Black Hand tried but failed to assassinate Emperor Franz-Josef in 1911

Archduke Franz Ferdinand favoured Slav rights and the Black Hand feared that if he became Emperor, Slavs would be happy to be ruled by him

The Black Hand decided to assassinate Franz Ferdinand in 1914 as a public protest over the annexation of Bosnia and to weaken Austria-Hungary’s control in the Balkans

Archduke Franz Ferdinand was heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and was visiting the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo on 28th June 1914

The Black Hand made two attempts to kill the Archduke, the first, a bomb, failed when he deflected it away from him onto the car behind

The Archduke cancelled the tour but insisted on visiting the injured in hospital, his driver took a wrong turn which gave Gavrilo Princip, a Black Hand assassin, the chance to fire two shots at the car, killing Franz-Ferdinand’s wife immediately and leading to his own death in Hospital later

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Assassination of Franz Ferdinand Significance

Gave Austria-Hungary the excuse to make a list of demands on Serbia, the Serbian government had no ties with the Black Hand and did not want a war at that point so was prepared to meet nine of the ten demands, only refusing to let Austria-Hungary be involved in the enquiry into the assassination

Some leading officials in Austria-Hungary were determined to deal with Serbia aggressively and on 28th July Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia

Austria-Hungary had already received confirmation of a “blank cheque” of support from Germany, that they would be supported if they were attacked, no matter what

Russia confirmed the support of France and made preparations for war on 30th July - Germany declared war on France and Russia and launched the Schlieffen Plan, effectively beginning the First World War.

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Schlieffen Plan Significance

French and Russian preparations forced Germany to use the Schlieffen Plan – its only plan for war which involved attacking and defeating France then turning round to defeat Russia, they were panicked into using this because Russia had mobilised quite quickly

Germany declared war on Russia on 1st August then put the Schlieffen Plan into operation on 3rd August declaring war on France

Britain stated on 2nd August that they would only go to war if Belgium’s neutrality was threatened

When the Germans put the Schlieffen Plan into effect on 3rd August they invaded Belgium

Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th

Britain was not only defending Belgium, there was also some obligation to France, they feared that Belgian and French coasts might be used to launch and attack on Britain, Britain wanted to prevent Germany becoming too strong in Europe and there was a huge public opinion in Britain that declaring war on Germany was right

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